That blue ribbon buzz
July 26, 2019 12:54 AM   Subscribe

Craft brew sales are up and major brew sales are down. PBR tries its hand at hard coffee to recapture some lost ground. Made with alcoholic malt beverage, PBR's hard coffee "kind of tastes like Starbucks' Frappuccino, honestly" and is being trialled in limited US markets to mixed reviews. "I could probably take it to work and no one would know!" says one taster.
posted by stillmoving (63 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
I love that this has the distinct feel of having been written at the bar.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 3:09 AM on July 26, 2019


Caffe Zima
posted by jenkinsEar at 4:07 AM on July 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


"I could probably take it to work and no one would know!" says one taster.

That exclamation mark is doing a lot of work.
posted by Mayor West at 4:23 AM on July 26, 2019 [34 favorites]


Coffee is already hard, thank you.
posted by UltraMorgnus at 4:41 AM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


Didn't a bunch of places outlaw beverages containing both caffeine and alcohol during the Four Loko Panic of 2010? Is it acceptable if it's coffee + alcohol, and not alcohol + caffeine as an additive? That's stupid, but seems in line with US alcohol regulation.

Also it's not even 8AM and now I want to try this stuff.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:43 AM on July 26, 2019 [7 favorites]


... and another gateway to alcoholism swings open.
posted by SPrintF at 4:46 AM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


Coffee + alcohol is such a GERD bomb. I'd dissolve in stomach acid.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 4:54 AM on July 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


Coffee + alcohol is such a GERD bomb. I'd dissolve in stomach acid.

A local Memphis brewery has a coffee stout with lactose in it, in case there wasn't enough gastrointestinal distress.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:05 AM on July 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


Didn't a bunch of places outlaw beverages containing both caffeine and alcohol during the Four Loko Panic of 2010?

Yes. From Wikipedia:
As of November 10, 2010 caffeinated alcoholic energy drinks had been banned in Washington and Michigan in the United States.[5][6] The bans followed a widely publicized incident which resulted in hospitalization in the Fall of 2010 of college students who had consumed several cans of Four Loko caffeinated alcoholic beverage.[7] Utah, which has state controlled liquor retail outlets, after studying them, never permitted the sale of caffeinated alcoholic energy drinks.[8] The products will no longer be delivered to Oklahoma after December 3, 2010[9] and delivery to retailers has been suspended in New York
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:11 AM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


... and another gateway to alcoholism swings open.

Adding alcohol to your morning coffee has always seemed to me to be an indication that you might have a problem, not so much the gateway to the problem. But that's just anecdotal, based on people I have known. Over the years I've worked with quite a few people whose first coffee at work (or on the drive to work) obviously had a little extra in it; they were all high-functioning but clearly had issues with alcohol and needed something to take the edge off first thing.

This stuff sounds gross but I'm sure there is a market for it. I could definitely see states cracking down on these if they become something that people are sipping while driving in the morning, rather than instead of redbull and vodka in the evening.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:20 AM on July 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


Its like they don't know that cocaine is the stimulant of choice for today's modern alcoholic. Hard coffee, pfft. Who is the target market here? Babies?
posted by Literaryhero at 6:26 AM on July 26, 2019 [8 favorites]


Its like they don't know that cocaine is the stimulant of choice for today's modern alcoholic. Hard coffee, pfft. Who is the target market here? Babies?

Do you mix the cocaine into the alcoholic malt beverage boozy coffee and drink it, or do you snort the whole concoction?
posted by Mayor West at 6:35 AM on July 26, 2019


This article just keeps on giving.
There is no beer taste. That's because Pabst says its hard coffee is made with "malt beverage," which is related to beer.
Kind of like how nail polish remover is related to châteauneuf-du-pape.
posted by Mayor West at 6:40 AM on July 26, 2019 [27 favorites]


See, shit like this is why I'm glad I quit drinking. There's no need to be curious enough about it to try it.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 6:58 AM on July 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


I can say id rather malty booze in my coffee than citrus or fucking tonic, things ive been seeing more of (coming at this from the other direction, of people adulterating coffee, more than a beer company moving into the coffee market).
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:10 AM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


"I could probably take it to work and no one would know!" says one taster.

That taster? Dan Backslide.
posted by davejay at 7:10 AM on July 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


So some states outlaw “caffeinated alcoholic energy drinks,” but I guess a coffee product doesn’t count because it doesn’t have the triple caffeine level of Four Loko and the like? Or I guess this is just an alcoholic drink with caffeine?

As an aside: four university students die from drinking Four Loko and states move to ban the drinks, but no similar action on gun sales? I almost can’t believs the gun lobby is stronger than the alcohol lobby, but I guess it is?
posted by stillmoving at 7:12 AM on July 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


This seems like a good idea.
posted by spitbull at 7:12 AM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


Wait ... citrus in coffee? That sounds disgusting.
posted by spitbull at 7:12 AM on July 26, 2019


Tonic and coffee? And people think I'm weird for infrequently having whiskey and tonic.
posted by mollweide at 7:15 AM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


I guess... I don't get it?

If I want to get buzzed, I'll have an alcoholic drink. If I want the taste of alcohol, I'll have an alcoholic drink - and on rare occasions that has been putting some form of liquor into coffee.

Putting alcohol you can't taste into coffee that's probably pretty terrible just sounds pointless to me. And yeah, I'd be a little worried about someone who made this their coffee of choice in the morning. Is this supposed to be an evening thing?

I've also never really gotten the redbull and vodka thing. Why not just vodka? Maybe someone can enlighten me. The competing effects sound awful to me, do some people actually find it pleasant?
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:23 AM on July 26, 2019


There are plenty of traditional coffee-and-booze concoctions, e.g., Irish coffee or coffee and brandy. This is just the latest throw-it-on-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks dealio from the marketers. Occasionally its a real life-changing hit like toilet paper, but most of the time it’s just lemon-scented cashew butter.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 7:23 AM on July 26, 2019 [11 favorites]


I heard this yesterday on NPR and thought it was a bit interesting because PBR is big so it's not a little company trying to be unique. People have been spiking coffee for a long time, so it's nothing really new. But the line "I could probably take it to work and no one would know!" made me shudder a bit. I could hear myself saying that for so many years. It was not as cute to me (and likely many others) as they clearly intended it to be. That was not a hypothetical line for some of us.

I don't drink anymore and it doesn't sound that great anyway, but that box and can really don't do it any favors. That is not an attractive design.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 7:28 AM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


Putting alcohol you can't taste into coffee that's probably pretty terrible just sounds ....

.... like the most American product ever?
posted by spitbull at 7:28 AM on July 26, 2019 [7 favorites]


The perfect way to start your day off wrong!
posted by peeedro at 8:07 AM on July 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


Coffee with liquor in it is already a thing, and pre-mixed cocktails in a can are already a thing. The only thing different here from that I've already seen is that they're using a neutral flavor malt alcohol instead of whiskey or a cordial.

You can get Rumchata (a horchata flavored liqueur) in shelf-stable creamer cups, specifically for putting in coffee.
posted by Karmakaze at 8:09 AM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


It's 4 Loko for the cubicle set. There's simply no way this could go wrong.
posted by tommasz at 8:10 AM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm just mildly annoyed that I can't buy any within 100 miles of Milwaukee. Not that I can think of a good time to drink this other than general day drinkin', but it might be nice for home brunching when mimosas aren't in the cards.
posted by Kyol at 8:17 AM on July 26, 2019


I've never had a good relationship with alcohol, but it started to become problematic during my senior year of college, when I started spiking my coffee with brandy. I actually hated the taste, but it gave me that excuse to start drinking early, see. (Perhaps not coincidentally, I got my first Cs since my second semester of college, aka The Lost Semester.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:20 AM on July 26, 2019


Coffee with liquor in it is already a thing

Yeah, I know, and I said that I occasionally put liquor in coffee myself. The thing is that it tastes good. If you can't taste it, then I guess you're just drinking it for the effects of the drug. But it seems kind of pointless, because there are better ways to get buzzed.

Maybe this is just a cultural thing I do not get.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:20 AM on July 26, 2019


Its like they don't know that cocaine is the stimulant of choice for today's modern alcoholic. Hard coffee, pfft. Who is the target market here? Babies?

This is, if factual, really depressing and nothing to support with corporate level anything.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 8:26 AM on July 26, 2019


Yeah, I mean, Kahlua and Bailey’s are the favorites of teenagers and grannies everywhere, so not new at all. (It’s toasted!) I guess maybe they’re jumping on the “cold brew” train? Equally gross is their take on whiskey as in the Esquire piece linked in the article. (NB: I don’t drink and have seen far too often the devastating effects of alcohol. Still find this funny/terrifying/grotesque in that salad frosting, über marketing way).
posted by stillmoving at 8:30 AM on July 26, 2019


The Drew Carey Show had Buzz Beer 20 years ago.
posted by nestor_makhno at 8:37 AM on July 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


Seeing a lot of hate for sparkle-canos in here and I feel personally attacked. Mmm fizzy espresso.

Related note, Caffe Vita started roasting beans which have been aged (at the greenbean stage) in whiskey or rum barrels last winter while I worked there, and that was unspeakably foul smelling. Hoped it would be like Kahlua, but it tasted like weird rotten rum mixed with a 3 day old cup you left on the windowsill. I’m sure adding Night Train malt beverage to it would complete this horror show of a marketing plan.
posted by zinful at 8:46 AM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


It puts the edge on while taking the edge off!
posted by amanda at 8:52 AM on July 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


You can get Rumchata (a horchata flavored liqueur) in shelf-stable creamer cups, specifically for putting in coffee.

Wow, did not know this. Discovered that rumchata and cold brew is an ideal way to start an afternoon on a camping trip a few years ago and, well, why limit ourselves to camping.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 9:00 AM on July 26, 2019


But how did they manage to avoid the obvious headline: "Millennials are killing mass-market pisswater beer brands"? And seeing the picture of the turbid murky greenish-brown product in the article my mind immediately somehow went to the fabled Trump Tower martini. I wonder how many sixpacks of this swill will be bought and never fully finished, a can or three always moved further to the back of the fridge until being poured down the sink a year and a half from now.
posted by hangashore at 9:00 AM on July 26, 2019


As an aside: four university students die from drinking Four Loko and states move to ban the drinks, but no similar action on gun sales? I almost can’t believs the gun lobby is stronger than the alcohol lobby, but I guess it is?

College students die by the busload every year from alcohol-related causes; Four Loko was a convenient demon, and I think an outsider enough to the alcoholic-beverage world (Wikipedia says it was made by "Phusion Projects" of Chicago; I'd bet the big players were all too happy to have a little guy get taken out) that the rest of the industry felt comfortable letting it get demonized for everyone's collective sins. It's not like they were banning, say, Natty Lite, or vodka, both of which probably result in more fatalities every year than 4L ever did.

Lots of laws have very little relation to actual harm reduction, but alcohol regulations are particularly bad in the US; it's all about who has the money or votes to avoid being squashed by transparently captured regulators. Phusion Projects clearly didn't have enough money devoted to lobbyists, or a motivated and engaged enough customer base to swing elections. You need money, or you need votes, or you're just another stain on life's floor.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:13 AM on July 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


> Wait ... citrus in coffee? That sounds disgusting

Espresso with a twist is an established thing.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:30 AM on July 26, 2019 [4 favorites]


Espresso with a twist is an established thing.
posted by The corpse in the library


In my family asking for a twist with your espresso is an insult. Good espresso needs no additions. The citrus is to cover bitterness.
posted by Splunge at 9:34 AM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


Has anyone ever requested the twist? They just appear, unbidden, in coffee shops.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:42 AM on July 26, 2019


Some of us really like citrus, nothings to do with anything else.
posted by (Over) Thinking at 9:49 AM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


maybe i'm just uncultured swine, but i desperately want to try this. so much so that i'm meeting a friend coming from philadelphia next week for our annual mountain getaway weekend and i've sent her approximately 73,000 texts begging her to bring me a pack and offering untold riches in venmo credit.
posted by kerning at 9:55 AM on July 26, 2019


It puts the edge on while taking the edge off!

Sounds vaguely like the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems?
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:00 AM on July 26, 2019 [4 favorites]


I, too, was extremely anti-citrus in coffee. Until the day came when I was at an absolute limit w/r/t stress and feeling annoyed by everything in life, and on that day the “barista’s choice” drink at my local coffee shop was homemade tonic water + limeade + cold brew coffee. I bought it because I had no f’s to give about anything anymore, plus how bad could it be?, plus I felt so cranky that maybe I deserved a bad beverage? But I drank it and it turned my whole life around.

Not really, but it was shockingly delicious and it made my day better because it was also a reminder that I still had the ability to be surprised and delighted by unexpected things in this life.

TL;DR it’s worth a try!
posted by witchen at 10:00 AM on July 26, 2019 [7 favorites]


The 4Loko ban wasn't just scapegoating - alcohol + caffeine is legitimately more dangerous than alcohol on its own. Alcohol makes you sleepy, most people pass out before getting to the point of serious alcohol poisoning. Adding caffeine into the mix lets you drink more, while masking some of the symptoms of intoxication so you feel less drunk.

Not a problem if you splash some brandy in your postprandial coffee, but not a good idea for a binge.

Don't mix uppers and downers, kids.
posted by Turbo-B at 10:12 AM on July 26, 2019


One Jerzee's patron who was nursing a bottle of Budweiser didn't want to give his name, but he declined to sample the hard coffee, saying, "Beer should taste like beer."

Okay, lol at this dude's definition of beer purity that includes beechwood and rice but not coffee.

Also, Founders Breakfast Stout is tasty if you're into this sort of thing.
posted by peeedro at 10:17 AM on July 26, 2019


I'm just happy that craft brew sales continue to increase while the majors are treading water at best.
posted by Ber at 10:24 AM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


AB-INBEV (aka the conglomerate that owns Budweiser, Busch, et al) has been acquiring successful craft brewers at a dizzying rate.

The majors are not treading water in the slightest, they’re diversifying and they can happily shut down any of their acquisitions once they’re deemed insufficiently profitable or to be stealing revenue from one of their more valuable brands.
posted by ardgedee at 12:29 PM on July 26, 2019


Espresso with a twist is an established thing.

Yeah so is coffee beans pooped out by Civet cats. Hell, so is Clamato juice.

I mean who thought up a clam/tomato cocktail? Cuz I’d rather have what they were smoking.
posted by spitbull at 12:36 PM on July 26, 2019


OMG u guyz it just occurred to me that spiked iced coffee was conceived for stoners in legal weed states.
posted by spitbull at 12:37 PM on July 26, 2019


I mean, Four Lokos are fun because you know it's gonna be for a night of awfulness. This is literally just daytime awfulness.
posted by yueliang at 12:47 PM on July 26, 2019


alcohol + caffeine is legitimately more dangerous than alcohol on its own. Alcohol makes you sleepy, most people pass out before getting to the point of serious alcohol poisoning. Adding caffeine into the mix lets you drink more, while masking some of the symptoms of intoxication so you feel less drunk.

Not a problem if you splash some brandy in your postprandial coffee, but not a good idea for a binge.

Don't mix uppers and downers, kids.
posted by Turbo-B


See also: Buckfast. aka Wreck the Hoose Juice.
posted by Splunge at 2:01 PM on July 26, 2019


This thread is making me want a four loko.

e: this is how the mods feel all the time
posted by ryanrs at 3:14 PM on July 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


The old Four Loko formulation made me sick as a dog, but it's drinkable without the caffeine, taurine, and guarana. What I do is combine equal parts Four Loko and a complementary flavor of Jumex fruit nectar over ice, blend if desired. The flavor combinations are endless. I call it a Four Laiquiri.
posted by peeedro at 3:54 PM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


but if you dilute it, isn’t it only two loko?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 4:12 PM on July 26, 2019


Or one loko mixologist?
posted by Splunge at 5:37 PM on July 26, 2019


if you dilute it, isn’t it only two loko?

Two loko? Not loko enough.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 6:00 PM on July 26, 2019


I tried the product in question, thanks to a bartender friend who graciously sampled out a can to her patrons. The flavor is more mocha than coffee which results in a beverage that tastes very close to Yoo-Hoo. We patrons agreed that it not only caters to the 21-25 year age group targeted by the product in marketing materials but also to those below legal consumption age. Personally I would have have difficulty drinking a full can.
posted by dreaming in stereo at 6:28 PM on July 26, 2019


> Personally I would have have difficulty drinking a full can.

A few years ago, Pabst was really pushing that "Not Your Father's" line of boozy root beer and ginger ale. It was also sickly sweet, arguably more so than normal soda.

It seemed like every bar around here suddenly had it and had a poster for it, but nobody I know liked it, and I haven't seen it in a while.
posted by smelendez at 7:04 PM on July 26, 2019


Side note regarding Rumchata: Rumchata and root beer tastes just like a root beer float. You're welcome.
posted by nestor_makhno at 11:17 PM on July 26, 2019


After seeing what Red Bull and vodka would do to people, one of my personal rules of thumb is to avoid any substance that combines uppers and downers.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:40 AM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


A few years ago, Pabst was really pushing that "Not Your Father's" line of boozy root beer

It was really good with a scoop of vanilla ice cream thrown in for a hard root beer float. On its own, it tasted like prediabetes in a bottle. (Which, I know, is ironic because the ice cream only adds more sugar, but somehow that's palatable while the straight stuff was too much for me. I don't know why. Dessert logic, I guess.)

While we're on the subject, if you're looking to make slightly-boozy coffee, black coffee plus Licor 43—a Mexican (I think? maybe Spanish?) liqueur flavored with vanilla—is great. Works best IMO with a fairly nutty medium-roast coffee.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:52 AM on July 27, 2019


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